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Grab Bars and Bathroom Safety Measures

Avoid dangerous falls in the bathtub or shower by installing grab bars and floors with traction.

When you consider all the slippery surfaces, the scalding-hot water, and the hazards related to drowning and electrical shock, the bathroom can be a dangerous room. You can't eliminate the risks completely, but you can make your bathroom much safer. Members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), the National Safety Council, and the Center for Injury Research and Policy suggest the simple steps of choosing floors with traction and installing a grab bar.

In a room with splashing water, good traction underfoot is a must. Don't install slick, glossy tiles on bathroom floors. Grout lines increase traction, so smaller floor tile is usually best, especially inside a shower. There are also larger stone or ceramic floor tiles that are designed with a little extra grit, making them a safer option for bathroom floors.

A fall may still happen, so don't choose shower fixtures with sharp edges or points that would cause a serious gash if you fell against them.

Installing grab bars in the shower and next to the bathtub is a good idea for everyone, but it's especially important for adults 65 and older. A bar by the toilet helps anyone who has difficulty standing. Grab bars no longer have to look institutional. "They come in every possible finish and look, from chrome to oil rubbed bronze," says Genie Nowicki, a certified bath designer (CBD) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not convinced you need grab bars? If you're remodeling and plan to stay in your home for a number of years, consider installing the necessary blocking in the wall, and keep a record of the location, so it's easy to add the bars later.

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